View Full Version : The Quest for the Perfect Vac

April 3rd, 2012, 08:08 PM

It was shortly after moving from lodgings into my first humble flat that I realised it: like Gravy in The Odd Couple, clean carpets do not “just come”. Indeed, to get and keep them looking that way requires the use of a noisy machine which sucks up dust and dirt; a contraption commonly known as a Vacuum Cleaner, or Vac for short. I had, of course, come across Vacs before, but usually attached to houses owned by other people. About a month after said move I realised that actually they were an essential part of having one’s own household, Unfortunately, however, they also cost money.

Not one for spending huge sums on anything that is merely functional, I started by scouring the nearest shopping street, and got lucky - I picked up a Vac for £20, reduced from £30 and with a 3 month guarantee, from a psychic second-hand dealer. I say psychic because precisely three months and two days later, my trusty Goblin Laser let out an almighty wheeze and then refused to utter another sound, once again leaving me with a chocolate brown carpet littered with bread crumbs, cornflake bits, and Dhoop-stich ask, and thanking goodness I had given up smoking roll-ups some years previously.

Now, borrowing my boyfriend’s hoover once a week became, let’s say, not particularly conducive to partnerly bliss, and so eventually, although at my least stable time of year financially, I knew I had to buy another one. A new one might be a better option this time - but where to find a Vac on a budget of under £40? I shared my problem with my boyfriend. “They’ve got compact Vacs in Asda for £29,” he enthused with the usual effervescence that accompanied the mere mention of said supermarket.

The following Sunday the weather was lousy, so instead of our customary foray into the countryside, off we went to check out the lay of Asda Vac-land. Sure enough, a small, red “Dirt Devil Handy Vac” sat forlorn upon the top shelf and seemed to be saying “Pick me please!”. Unsure as to whether it was for display only, we decided to ask, and pushed our way through the chattering throngs to the Customer Service desk. A call was put out for someone in Electrics to come to Customer Services. Ten minutes later, another call was put out. Another ten minutes, one panic attack and one argument later we cut our losses and left, getting caught in the most torrential flood since Noah, water streaming off our clothes by the time we reached our space in the car park.

So Sunday passed Vaclessly. As did Monday and Tuesday. On Wednesday, however, unwilling to return from my sleep-in shift to a thickening and possibly soon-to-be irreversible blanket of Weetos, Wotsits and whatever else I was eating or burning, I detoured to Crwys Road, on a vague memory of having seen some reasonably priced Vacs in a shop window a few months previously. I arrived there only to find their cheapest one cost £65. Not to be deterred - in fact on a bit of a roll now - I decided I might as well go to Albany Road, then Wellfield Road while I was in the area. £50 and £60 respectively. The only remaining option, then, was Cardiff City centre.

After a phone call to Asda confirmed that the Handy Vac had sold out, I mounted Shanks’s Pony and headed for the city centre. If all else failed I would do what other people seemed to do when in dire consumer straits: order one from that miraculous, mysterious place they call Argos.

The first shop on the way was Index. All they seemed to have in the shop was catalogues, so I did the obvious thing and looked in a catalogue. I wrote down the order number for the only Vac in my price range, a nif ty,blue, slug-like thing for £39.99 and took it to the till, where I was romptly informed that there were none in stock. “We can order it for you,” said the girl. “But I want it NOW” I wailed, my shoulders slumping. She helpfully offered to dispose of my piece of paper. Ok, Argos it is then, I sighed.

I had always been slightly in awe of and puzzled by Argos; one of which seems to inhabit the main shopping centre in every fair-sized town - so much so that for 33 years I had managed to avoid shopping there unless occasionally accompanying well-versed friends whom I could follow blindly around the unfathomable route from catalogue to till, to chairs and screens to collection points, all among bright lights a-flash ….. Today, however, my quest for the perfectly-priced Vac had finally forced me to make the journey alone. Gingerly, then, I entered the labyrinth.

Unlike in Index, there seemed to be some goods on the shelves as well as just catalogues, so again I did what seemed the logical thing and decided to see if there were any Vacs out, thereby hoping to be able to circumvent at least part of the round-trip. Lo and behold, in the middle of the store were two shelves laden with an array of brightly-coloured and reasonably priced compact suction machines. Heaven! Two of them cost well under £40 at that. I clapped my hands in glee, swiped a luminous green JMB (34.95) machine from the shelf, and carried it my arms towards the till. Halfway there I stopped - hang on a minute, didn’t these electrical things usually come in boxes, with instructions and tools and things? - what if it is raining outside? I had better ask for something to carry it in.

Ignoring the people looking at the green thing in my arms (or possibly at me) as if it had ears and a tail, I hastened towards the till. When my turn came half an hour later I assertively enquired of the assistant “Any chance of getting a box for this?” She stared at me for a moment in a manner that in Wales is referred to as “gone off“, then explained that I had to find the item in a catalogue, fill in a slip of paper with the order number on, take it to the till, pay in advance, then pick it up from the collection point. So back I had to go to put my green companion back on its rightful display shelf. Too exhausted to continue my quest any further, I filled in the form, paid for and collected another, identical one complete with box, and carried it the whole three miles home on foot.

In counselling and personal development-type circles they teach you that in every loss there is a gain and vice-versa. I suppose the loss of any small amount of street-cred I ever possessed is more than balanced out by the fact that I have now enjoyed a muesli and crisp-free carpet for a whole two months. Makes you want a roll-up.

April 10th, 2012, 06:21 PM
Crisp writing- moves along, tells a tongue-in cheek tale or the most import- real life difficulty!

Tee Bee
April 19th, 2012, 10:43 AM

Reminds me of a time when I went to the Dyson factory in Wiltshire to install a new computer system. If you called their vacuums 'hoovers' by mistake, you were almost escorted out of the building by security!.

May 1st, 2012, 03:47 AM
Reminds me of my friend opening CD cases in a BESTBUY™ seeing if the CD was scratched

Kenneth J. Ester
May 17th, 2012, 12:29 AM
It was a charming story, but to be honest, at times I felt like there was so much detail that it took away from the story. Also be careful of sentences being too long. There were a couple points when I stopped paying attention to the story and began wondering how long it had been since I saw a period.